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The Journal of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

Preface by Nicole Schmitz-Moormann

Part I: Introduction  |  Part II: Themes and Abbreviations  |  Part III: Editor's Notes


If Father Teilhard never distorted, or hid, his thoughts in his essays, talks, or letters, he presented and formulated them in a way that a reader, a listener, could follow and understand. On the other hand in the Journal, the birth and the development of his original ideas and reflections can be followed in the course of time, sometimes years, before he started writing a paper on the precise theme.

His thoughts may be categorized under three main subjects:

It is also interesting to note that, quite often, Teilhard copied into his diaries passages of letters, mostly of his own, that were important to him.

In the diary Father Teilhard is the thinker and the theologian who talk to himself and wants to understand, who tests and tries several ways in order to get to the bottom of the subject. Since he does not have to choose a language that can be accessible from the outset to everyone, the language and style he uses to write down his thoughts are different from those in his essays. Being by himself, he can do without academic language as a medium to communicate his thoughts. Very early, Teilhard realizes that traditional language is not able, at least at least not completely, to express his thoughts. The multiple neologisms which then followed, words based on French, Latin, Greek, English, and German reveal his continuous search for precision and his continuous struggle with linguistic constrains; they do not reflect any carefree use of language.

In spite of the gap from 1925-1944, the scholarly value of Teilhard's Journal is inestimable since it contains key to the birth, the development and the evolution of his thoughts, and therefore it offers a much better understanding of his already known essays and writings.

Again, in the Journal Father Teilhard wrote for himself. Consequently a profound change appears in his notes over the course of the years. In the first notebooks the text of the subject he studies can be analyzed in phrases, sometimes in paragraphs and sub-paragraphs. In later cahiers Teilhard merely jotted his thoughts down: the sentences are short, sometimes reduced to a few words, sometimes a verb is missing; braces between words replace sentences and shorten the written exposition of an idea; notes or complementary words are added in the margins, or between lines; and arrows link them with the parent phrase. All those techniques, as well as the sketches and diagrams, allow us to follow closely the steps of his thinking. In order to find more quickly notes written on the same subject in the interval of several days, he placed either a sign such as *, **, ***, or letters in the margin such as "N" for "Noogénèse," "En." for "Energie," "Ev." for "evolution."

Teilhard also developed his own abbreviations and symbols over the years and he used them more and more frequently:

- Greek letters:

φ (may be: féminin, philosophie, physique, etc.), ψ (psychologie, psychique, psyché, etc.), ν (Noogénèse, noosphère), φH (phénomène humain), Ωζ (omegalisation), Δ (Dieu), θ (théologie), ε (infiniment petit, et), μ (milieu), Σ (somme), K (Cosmos), α (alpha), ω (omega), Ω (Omega), Φ (Féminin), X (Christ), Xst (Christ), panθ (panthéisme), etc.- symbols: ♂(homme, masculin), ♀ (femme, féminin), + (positif), - (négatif), x (multiple), ≡ (identique), ± (plus ou moins), ∞ (infini), < (plus petit que), > (plus grand que), ≠ (different de), ò(variable de), etc.

- Other letters:

h, H, which, according to the context, may be read, homme, humain, Homme, Homo, Humanité. H means Flux d'enroulement, champ d'arrangement. U, or u, U-H and u-H may be read: Ultra, ultra, Ultra-Humain and ultra-Humanité, etc.  S.C, may be read, according to the context, Sacré Coeur, or Super-Christ.

- co / co / co, may be read complexité / conscience / connaissance, or complexité / conscience / convergence

- co / co / co / co, may be read: compression / complexité / conscience / convergence

- Welt.: Weltanschauung, or sometimes Weltstoff

- Other examples of common abbreviations: 

bcp. (beaucoup), Bg. (Biogénèse), càd. (c'est-à-dire), cf. (confere), Cf. (confere, conference), coe. (comme), ds. (dans), dstg. (distinguer), Ev. (Evolution), fo (function), fter (fonctionaliter, formaliter), hoes (hommes), i.e (id est), K. (cosmos), Kg. (Cosmogénèse), lgtps (longtemps), Ma (Matière), mvt (movement), Ng. (Noogénèse), ns (nous), pcq. (parce que), p.ê (peut-être), qq. (quelque), tt (tout), ts (tous), T T (Théologiens), Xg. (Christogénèse)

- Abbreviations of words endings:

the letter " t " marks a "ment" ending, e.g. : abst (absolument), particult (particulièrement), proprt (proprement, proportionnellement, etc.), 2t (doublement).

The greek letter "σ" is the equivalent of "tion", e.g. motiva σ (motivation), pfc σ (perfection), x σ, multipl. σ (multiplications), etc.

A footnote (1, 2, 3, etc.) has been added where the abbreviations could not be interpreted.

In his Journal, Teilhard does not maintain standard literary rules for punctuations. His "?", often written in the margin, is not a simple question mark introducing a question, but a semantic sign calling into question what he has just written, and expressing his hesitation toward the thought he has just expressed.


Part I: Introduction  |  Part II: Themes and Abbreviations  |  Part III: Editor's Notes


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